Mikko Rauhala being busy: charged for breaking EUCD, running for parliament and collecting 8k€ in 24h

According to Google this has not yet been reported in English, so I'll guess it's up to me...

Mikko Rauhala and Einar Karttunen have on February 13th, 2007 been charged with breaking parts of the Finnish copyright law that were passed in 2005 to implement the EUropean Copyright Directive, our equivalent of the DMCA. The charges are that they participated in an online service organised by Mr Rauhala to provide advice on how to circumvent DRM and in addition Mr Karttunen has published online a computer program written by him in the Haskell programming language. The charge is especially serious because Rauhala paid Karttunen 0,05€ for this program.

Rauhala, Karttunen and 37 others did these supposedly criminal actions in January 2006, the first week that the new law was in force. At the end of the week they signed a group-confession, admitting having "discussed online about ways to break digital rights management schemes". The campaign is known in Finnish as "organisoitu keskustelu", in English "organised discussion" and is meant to test whether it really is constitutionally okay for the EUCD to limit free speech in this way. The prosecutor has now evidently decided to try out the new law by first prosecuting 2 of the activists.

The new Finnish copyright law was passed in May 2005 and parliamentarians were taken much by surprise by hundreds of demonstrators turning up to protest the law outside the parliament building in Helsinki. (pics anyone? couldn't find...) The restriction of free speech was only one of the many problems in this sad affair, the week before the parliament voted culminated in an embarrasing moment for the poor civil servant who had himself written the law who one day claimed in a major Finnish newspaper that you would not risk jail for filesharing or copying a protected DVD-movie, then having to correct himself in public the next day after EFFI chairman Ville Oksanen pointed out to him that the new law does in fact say so. The law was eventually passed with a vast majority. Many parliamentarians seized the opportunity to criticise the Minister of Culture for her poor work on the messy bill, but then ended up voting in favor of the law themselves. (Sorry, too late to fix this now, was the main argument...)

The passing of the copyright law marked a catalyst in Finnish politics, for the first time copyright issues were discussed for many days in mainstream media. Close (too close) links between the Ministry of Culture and copyright organisations and media companies were exposed and the copyright lobby was caught lying, defending the law with statistics like saying that only 1% of CD's sold had DRM on them, when the next day some newspapers showed this figure to be around 20-30%. (Ironically, after the Sony rootkit case it seems DRM on new music CD's has sunk close to 1%!)

Mikko Rauhala and the organiser of the 2005 demonstration Mikko Särelä are both running for parliament in the elections to be held on March 18th, 2007. In other districts both the chairman and the treasurer of the Finnish EFF counterpart EFFI are also running and in addition there are yet more interesting candidates, like one of Finlands oldest bloggers (and there are still more good candidates, sorry for not listing all of you...). Parliamentarian Jyrki Kasvi is also running again. He was the main critic of the new copyright law and other issues like software patents, out of 200 parliamentarians it seems it has been a privilege to have even one of them that understands basics of how Internet and modern technology work. He happens to be in my district so it is an easy choice for me to decide on my vote. It will be interesting to see whether the momentum is still there and whether some of these challengers will rock the parliament, but at least Jyrki should be safe for re-election.

This week we saw evidence some of the momentum really might still be there. The people behind the demonstration of 2005 seized on an idea to publish an ad with names of who voted for and who against the new copyright law. They put out a website to collect pledges and within 24 hours had collected 8000€ to buy a full page ad in Finlands main newspaper Helsingin Sanomat. The ad won't appear there though, as the paper rejected it as not compliant with their "good taste" standards and refused to publish it unless the text was changed to something "much more neutral". The organisers haven't given up though, they are now looking for some other newspaper to take their 8000 euros.

The objectionable text reads as follows:

The new copyright law "Lex Karpela"1 was adopted on Oct 5, 2005

They want to send your child to jail for up to 2 years, because he wants to share his musical experiences with his friends2

[list of those who voted for]

They voted against such madness

[those who voted against, with their number in the upcoming elections]

"Common sense says that it is not wise to adopt a law that will not be followed and that is impossible to police" - Chief of the department for IT crimes of Finnish police, Vesa Isokuortti, HS Jan 15, 2007.

Do you know what your candidate supports?

Remember to vote on March 18 - mail in election March 7-13.

Now the foreigners reading this will think that Finland has some extraordinary high standards when it comes to "good taste". Or maybe it is just that the standard depends on who is criticising who?

  • 1named after Minister of Culture Tanja Karpela, ed
  • 2Under current Finnish laws, the maximum penalty for filesharing is higher than for simply stealing an actual music CD from a shop!

The collectively paid for ad has now been published in Metro. I contributed my 17,60€. Since there were more than enough bids, payment was scaled down from my offer of 20€.

The rejection of the ad by Helsingin Sanomat has created some discussion in Finnish blogosphere, for instance by other editor's in chief. A marketing and advertising oriented magazine also grilled the HS editors, comparing this ad to others with lower standards.

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